Thailand is one of the world’s most popular places for expats to move to. The country’s mouthwatering cuisine, tropical climate, beautiful landscapes, culture, and friendly reputation have circled the globe, attracting more tourists who, eventually, seek ways to return to ‘The Land of Smiles’. And thanks to Thailand’s mix of quiet nature retreats and buzzing metropolis life, everyone can find their own definition of paradise. But don’t just take our word for it – InterNations, the world’s largest expat community, ranks Thailand as the 8th best country for expats according to their 2022 survey. So what’s the appeal? After visiting this beautiful country ourselves, speaking with expats, and doing our research, we get it! And it makes total sense why Thailand’s ranking keeps improving every year. Read on to find out why expats are living in Thailand and retirement in Thailand is on the rise.
Why Expats Are Choosing to Live in Thailand
Cost of Living in Thailand
The same InterNations survey reported Thailand as the 4th best country in the world for cost of living. It is no secret that your dollar will stretch much further in Thailand, but to the point that you will enjoy an elevated standard of living in Thailand. Accommodation is more affordable, and you can even upgrade your lifestyle and still spend less than at home. It is the norm for households to hire help, which is inexpensive as well and gives you the gift of extra time. Food in Thailand is cheap and diverse; fruit and vegetables are very unusual. Your taste buds will never get bored, and you’ll be able to lead a healthier lifestyle. So if you cash out the same amount of money in Thailand, you can afford much more and allow yourself the amenities and activities you have been saying no to for years. Surely, that also has to come with additional benefits of stress reduction! Especially when you can splurge on massages on the daily.
While Thailand is considered a developing nation, it doesn’t lack anything. In fact, the country’s major cities are so modern that not only will you not find yourself missing things from home, but you will be blown away by how advanced the infrastructure is. The public transport is excellent, the hospitals offer world-class care and the latest facilities and the service is impeccable. Given the above, we aren’t quite sure how well the cable works! ; )
Thailand’s climate is a hot topic (pun intended) as it can be a pro or a con depending on one’s preferences. The year-round tropical climate is a dream to many, sitting at an average temperature of around 82-86 degrees Fahrenheit. The dry season, considered the cool season, is the most pleasant, running from November to February. The hot and humid months March to May can test your tolerance. The monsoon season June to October takes some getting used to. But with a few adjustments, you could even be enjoying these periods of the year. Expats usually spend more time indoors in Air Conditioning to escape the midday heat and treat themselves to staycations. But in the north of Thailand, living from March to April can become unbearable due to the burning season, when old crops are burnt, which creates thick blankets of smog and pollution. Expats and locals choose to leave the epicenter, or the country altogether, during these months.
Diverse Landscapes and Infinite Array of Activities
Thailand is blessed with lush mountains in the north and post-card-worthy beaches and islands in the south. Wherever you choose to live in Thailand, a change of scenery will be just a short flight or drive away. Not to mention, a flight to the surrounding Southeast Asian countries costs less than $100. With that and with the level of modernity of Thailand’s biggest cities comes an abundance of activities. It is possible to find entertainment for virtually anybody, regardless of whether you want to keep your old hobbies or try your hand at new ones. The thriving expat communities set up events that you can get involved in and expand your circle. And according to InterNations, Thailand is the 5th best country for leisure options. So you will have infinite ways to spend your newfound free time!
The Sabai Sabai Attitude
When relocating to a new country, especially one with a culture unlike your own in the Western part of the world, you will probably go through an adjustment period. While Thai people are some of the most welcoming, friendly, and kind people in the world, there is one aspect of their culture some foreigners struggle to accept. Thailand is laid back, and things don’t always get done within the specified time frame that was agreed upon, even in the capital. Expats who are used to a fast-paced lifestyle may have a hard time dealing with delays and adjusting. But in the world that we live in today, every one of us could learn from the Thais and “Sabai sabai” a little – take it easy.
Which Cities in Thailand Do Expats Love?
Perhaps all our Pros and Cons of Living in Thailand have got you considering your move. Then you are probably wondering what is the best place to relocate or retire in Thailand. The varied landscape offers expats mountains, long stretches of white sand, rice paddies, river banks, and skyscraper-filled city centers. Here are the cities that have the most expats and retirees in Thailand.
As the ultra-modern capital of Thailand, Bangkok is fast-paced. Most expats in Bangkok reside there for work, for the abundance of things to do, or for the convenience of it being the hub of the country. It’s incredibly easy to enjoy big city life and take short trips to explore the rest of the country on weekends. Living in Bangkok, you have world-famous shopping malls and fine-dining rooftop restaurants at your front door. Incredible national parks and heritage sites are a hop and a skip away, and in just two hours you’ll end up in beach resort towns Hua Hin and Pattaya. If an apartment overlooking Central Park has always been a dream you couldn’t afford, in Bangkok, you can live sky-high overlooking Lumpini Park, the “Central Park of Bangkok” at a fraction of the cost.
The second largest city in Thailand, Chiang Mai is located in the mountainous north of the country. It perfectly combines modern buildings hosting luxury apartments and infinity pools, ancient temples, and national parks nearby. Chiang Mai is the best place to retire in Thailand, offering a peaceful atmosphere, a slower pace of life, and nature escapes. The climate in Chiang Mai is also slightly more gentle. If you enjoy being immersed in Thai culture and consider yourself an avid hiker, look no further!
For those who prefer beachside living, Phuket is the most popular choice among expats. As the largest island in Thailand, Phuket is both a world-class vacation destination with pristine palm-fringed beaches and a laid-back city that doesn’t lack any amenities of the capital. It’s a lively island, but you can be in the center of the party or retreat into relaxation. Living in Phuket is equivalent to a forever holiday. If you dream of spending your retirement on golf courses, sailing, island hopping on long-tail boats, and sipping cocktails at sunset, then Phuket is the place for you.
Whether it’s the constant sunshine, the elevated standard of living, or perpetually smiling faces that convinced you to consider relocating to Thailand, here is our top tip: Come and experience what living in your destination of choice is like first. Check out our posts on Unmissable Things in Bangkok and What to Know Before Visiting Chiang Mai to help you plan your trip. Drop your questions in the comments below for further advice!